“The Oblong Room,” By: Edward D. Hoch “The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and The Supernatural” 

Alexandra Blockton
ablockton@lc.edu

 

The author Edward D. Hoch could of really had written more to this story. I understand it is a short story, but it was just way to short and I think he could have been more thorough with the ending because it was just to simple. I was expecting a hardcore short scary story for Halloween. Not just a plain old short story. 

The scene with the dead body was really interesting to me because it went more into detail of what the story was really about overall. The medical examiner was already on the scene as Captain Leopold and Sergeant Fletcher approached the doorway. The dead boy named Ralph Rollings, was a sophomore at the university. Tom McBern, Ralph’s roommate admitted to being in the apartment with the body for about twenty hours before they had arrived. 

The author had described McBern as a handsome athletic looking college student. He insisted on wanting his lawyer present with him, because he did not want to speak with Fletcher and Leopold alone. 

There was a room connected to Tom and Ralph’s room. Captain Leopold and Sergeant Fletcher searched for the boy who resided to question him about Ralph Rolling’s death. Which I thought was a great idea to insist on. Eventually they found the boy, named Bill Smith. The search for Bill seemed very short and plain. I thought the search for him would be more of a mystery.

From here on the story really took off. Bill had actually stopped by prior, but Tom wouldn’t open the door for him. Shouting from behind the door; “he was in the apartment sick and Ralph father had died but he had gone home for the funeral.” Tom only told Bill this in order to get him away from the door.

Sergeant Fletcher, received the name of one Stella Banting. Captain Leopold spoke with Stella. Stella seemed to me to be a very honest person because she had an intuition that something in that apartment was going on amongst those young men. Something just didn’t seem right at all. But she was smart to never get involved in their activities. I would consider Stella as being a bright young woman. The crazy thing was that Ralph had full mind control over Tom. It was terrible because Tom worshipped Ralph to the point that he was his overseer. He would do anything in the world Ralph told him to do. Even if Ralph told him to kill him.

Sergeant Fletcher and Captain Leopold while searching the young men’s apartment, found the drug LSD. Tom and Ralph hadn’t used the drug for a kick or high. They took it to heighten a sense of religious experience: a sort of mystical endeavor to find the meaning of life. The author Edward D. Hoch could of went into more details about the actual religious act that they were practicing in, that brought upon the death. Because, it would have been nice to know the actual religion they were participating in. Additionally, it referred to the story of; “The Oblong Box” where the box was on board a ship, and of course it contained a dead body. Meanwhile, Queequeg’s coffin which rose from the sea to rescue Ishmael.

In the final analysis, Ralph had died because of the religious ritual Tom and him were practicing similar to the one from “The Oblong Box.” During the ritual Ralph told Tom to stab him in his heart. Ralph laid in the bed while Tom stabbed him as informed to do so. That’s why Tom didn’t contact the police, until twenty hours later when the body was found. It was all a religious ritual and Tom patiently waited for Ralph to rise from the dead to come back alive, as in the story they were mocking.

I really wanted to keep reading to know more. But, it was too short! I wouldn’t really consider this being a scary story, but it makes me wonder exactly what these college roommates were doing in their spare time!

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